I’ve been asked many times what I do on my rest days. I like to utilise active recovery as much as possible with things like long walks on the beach, self massage and mobility work. Firstly, I’ll let you know that naturally I’m VERY inflexible and my mobility in my joints is average at best. I clearly remember being about 12 years old and we were doing some physical activity tests at school and we all had to touch our toes, I think I got just past my kneecap! In recent years, I’ve paid a lot more attention to my mobility and flexibility and I definitely feel that it helps overall athleticism and being as prepared as possible for the next intense training session.
I would not say I’m an expert on biomechanics but I do know the basics and what does and doesn’t work. For all things mobility related I’d refer to Kelly Starrett at www.mobilitywod.com or check out his book “How to become a supple leopard”
The following are my most used mobility tools. I usually do these on the carpet while watching TV.
This is the next step up from a typical foam roller. I initially started with a foam roller but after a little while the stiffness wasn’t enough. I have the “softer” version of the rumble roller and there is a black one which is considerably harder. The other benefits this has over a foam roller is the notches are very good to get into smaller areas like individual hip flexors. Another similar option thatI use is a PVC pipe for areas like the IT Band that feels better with a smooth surface.
I use a medicine ball in much the same way as the rumble roller but the spherical nature of it means that it can target the muscle groups a little bit differently e.g. using the rumble roller on the glutes, I would typically cross one leg across the other and sit on the rumble roller. With the medicine ball, I just have to roll onto one side and it hits the same spot (with more pressure) Also, works very well for spinal erectors, ITB and lats (if you can deal with the pain!). The other minor benefit of this is that it forces you to engage your core and also practice your balance.
This is a simple “device” that is just two tennis balls duct taped together. (Another great use for duct tape!) I use this for spinal erectors as well as thoracic spine mobility. You will need to be careful around the lumbar spine with these as it is a very tender area. To work on thoracic mobility, I will move the tennis balls up one vertebrae at a time and do five crunches where I will be flexing from the point that the tennis ball is touching my back.
This is the ultimate in self inflicted pain! I would recommend starting with a softer ball or using a hard ball inside a footy sock where you can maneuver yourself against a wall to reduce the direct pressure. The primary uses for the cricket ball are pecs, scapula, lats & glutes.
Along with these self massage tools, I will do general stretching for all body parts (focussing on the areas that need the most attention) as well as some specific mobility drills for tight areas. For me that is focussing on increasing hip mobility and shoulder/thoracic spine mobility. A lot of the moves I use are actually typical yoga/pilates moves. It is for this reason, that when people ask me what I think about yoga/pilates my response is usually “it’s great…on a rest day” 🙂
If you have access to it, hot yoga is even better!